Ref No. 4188.8.131.52.02.001
In the Wrist Notes series, we’ll search the lands far and wide for interesting new watch models that are available for sale and we’ll provide you with our initial on-the-wrist impressions. Today we'll look at the recently-released Omega DeVille Chronograph in Stainless Steel.
The wristwatch is a unique art form. A fine wristwatch requires a blend of powerful aesthetics, peerless craftsmanship and a strong technical foundation. The practical considerations, fit, comfort and utility, are the final elements of the equation. A watch may look absolutely stunning when presented in a photo essay alongside waxing lyrics, but the magic can disappear as soon as the watch is strapped on a hairy wrist.
Note: I am a left-handed and I will often wear my watch on my right wrist. The wrist shots that accompany this article will attest to that. Regardless of whether you wear your watch on the “correct” wrist or the right wrist, the fit between the case and the wrist will remain the same.
The Omega DeVille Co-Axial Chronograph is a watch that defies genres. While a much dressier piece than its close kin, the Speedmaster and Planet Ocean Co-Axial Chronographs, the DeVille Co-Axial Chronograph retains their hefty girth thanks to a 15.9 mm thick case. My first impression was, “Wow, that’s a great-looking watch.” On the other hand, I wouldn't classify this watch as a dress watch because it is too thick. Having tried and failed many times to wear my 16 mm thick Breitling underneath my dress shirts, I know from personal experience that this Omega won’t fit under many dress shirts. On the other hand, a true watch collector may choose to build their wardrobe outwards from the wrist. If you're one of these collectors, a few trips to your local made-to-measure clothier will be in order. A couple hundred dollars for some dress shirts with wide cuffs is not a terrible price to pay for the opportunity to wear this stunner...any time, any place.
The DeVille Co-Axial Chronograph’s dial is one of the highlights of this watch. The dial is chock full of many carefully-considered details and features. The sharply cut applied Roman numerals have an appreciably thickness, which, along with the recessed subdials, give the dial a beautiful sense of depth. This sense of depth is one area where I’d like to see Omega and other brands continue to experiment as the depth looks luxurious.
The signature feature of the Co-Axial Chronograph models is the placement of the chronograph’s elapsed minute and hour hands on the same subdial. The bicompax layout is very class, as the first chronograph wristwatches featured a bicompax layout. The co-axial chronograph subdial can be read off just like a tiny watch face, which means that interpretation of the elapsed time should be intuitive to most people. The fine index track, on the other hand, is fairly useless because it does not pass through the subdials or around the edge of the date window. Still, there is no doubt that even the inclusion of this useless scale was well-considered, as the date wheel would have appearance unbalanced without it. Purists will appreciate that the number of minor ticks (three) is correct for the 4 Hz movement, something even the Speedmaster Professional has problems with. All of the hands are subtly-faceted to improve readability in daytime conditions, but the lack of luminous material means this watch is unreadable in darkness.
The massive stainless steel case is finely-crafted. From above, cuts through the lugs lend an illusion that the lugs are attached to the case – I’m not quite sure what the purpose of this was, beyond making the case look a bit more interesting. The sides of the case feature a pleasant curvature and the finely brushed finish feels luxurious to the touch. The mushroom match well with the thick case and they tie into Omega’s history of timing important sporting events. The crown itself is nicely proportioned, featuring a nice relief of the brand’s infamous Greek logo.
One of the huge selling points of this watch is the state-of-the-art calibre 9300 movement. The 9300 features a freely-sprung balance, a co-axial escapement, a silicon balance spring and a lot of red text, helping highlight the movement’s many technical features. The column wheel, which is cut from a single block of material, sports a very untraditional shape. The chronograph is vertically-coupled, which is a technically-superior (if aesthetically inferior) approach compared to the traditional horizontal coupling. Further discussion of the movement’s technical strengths and weaknesses is best left to a highly-skilled watchmaker, but what I do appreciate the four year warranty that Omega provides for all of its co-axial movements. The movement’s bridges are uniquely finished with a pattern known as “Côtes de Genève in Arabesque”.
One of the pet peeves that many collectors have with the 8500- and 9300-series is the inclusion of a quick hour reset function at the cost of a quick date reset function. That pet peeve is likely not going away anytime soon, although Omega can rightfully claim that many of their customers are not huge watch collectors and the hour reset function is more useful for traveling. In any case, the date can be reset forwards and backwards, which means you won’t have to read the instruction manual. Chronograph operation was smooth and pusher feel was good. The elapsed minutes counter moves smoothly rather than jumping, which some people will prefer and others will not.
The fit on my wrist was fine, as can be seen in the pictures. Personally, I felt it was a touch too big for my wrist, but the curved lugs ensured that the strap followed my wrist's curvature. Fit is a matter of preference though, so I encourage those of small wrist who like the design to try it on for size and see if it "works". The black alligator strap is nicely crafted and the round scales are just a touch less dressy than the square scales that are more commonly seen. While “less desirable”, I liked the quirky aesthetic the round scales provided. The single fold clasp appeared to be well-constructed, carrying the curved design language from the case. For those looking for a sportier look, the watch is available with a stainless steel bracelet.
For those of you who exclusively prefer massive watches, the Omega DeVille Co-Axial Chronograph is ready to scratch your dress watch itch. While dressy, the sheer heft of this watch ensures that it won’t fly under the radar. The watch looks and feels expensive, which one might suppose is one of the reasons the luxury watch continues to sell well in the age of the mobile device. The retail price of 8,300 USD is high in an absolute sense, but Omega is once again delivering excellent value for the money. There is a lot of watch to love here, if your wrist can handle it.
Special thanks to Natalie Amiel and the rest of the Omega Boutique at Aventura Mall (Florida) for their time and gracious hospitality.
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Case Diameter: 42 mm
Case Thickness: 15.9 mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Power Reserve: 60 Hours (2.5 days)
Strap: Black Alligator
Clasp: Single-fold Deployant
Water Resistance: 100 m / 300 ft (i.e. not shower-friendly)
MSRP: 8,300 USD